I didn’t always know that I was going to be an architect. As a matter of fact, driven by my love of athletics and the thrill of the game, I dreamed of a career in sports medicine. I headed into my freshman year of college thinking I had it all figured out. That is, until I took organic chemistry and started to second guess my calling, turning my attention to another vocation: architecture.
There were three influencing factors in this decision:
1. I grew up around architecture, so it made perfect sense for me to consider taking up the family business.
2. Physics is key for a degree in architecture and that came way more naturally to me than chemistry.
3. Making the switch would allow me to play more sports. (Yes, that was really a consideration!)
Do I regret my choice? Not for a minute. As a profession, architecture combines the best of several different worlds. I get to put my business savvy to good use, engage my creative side and work alongside a number of exciting professionals. Designing spaces for a wide variety of tenants and landlords means I spend a good deal of time with lawyers, financial services experts, investment bankers, new media executives, retail shop owners and more. My day is never boring!
It’s fascinating to see a design that you and your team conceptualized come to life. Since the actual structure that you put up often remains in place for some time, you can revisit the building facade or office space you helped to create over and over again. Sometimes that design stays put for 40, 50 or even 100 years, becoming a part of history.
Even when the design lasts just a few years, rather than decades, there is joy in the constant change and reinvention that architecture can bring. Five or 10 years later, we can help a tenant or landlord refresh their space or update their image. It’s a great feeling to be trusted to help design something a client will enjoy and that we can be proud of.
Finally, architecture is full of choices. You can take up building design, interiors, furniture, residential or commercial work. The specialty options are endless.
However, that’s not to say that it’s an “easy profession.” The hours are long and the demands are high. Plus, a new architect does not come out of school with a focus on salary; the pay scale is commensurate with what the market can bear. Over time, the career does pay dividends, both financially and emotionally, and is an excellent alternative to a traditional desk job. Architects are fortunate enough to have steady client and vendor interaction, including being face-to-face with those we assist. We tour spaces, touch products and work at computers, though not all day long. Every day can be a source of inspiration, whether on vacation or as we make our way from one meeting to another. You never know what will make its way into your next design.
As Spector Group gets ready to celebrate its 50th anniversary this year — and all of the incredible projects we’ve worked on during that time — I beam with pride. I can honestly say that I couldn’t be happier about where I’ve landed.
Scott E. Spector, AIA, is a principal at Spector Group, one of New York’s premier architecture and interior design firms and a leader in corporate tenant and building owner-based design. The award-winning company has affiliate offices nationally and internationally. To date, it has completed more than 2,000 projects.